Philadelphia Eagles News

Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott

On how difficult last night and this morning have been for him: "It's a part of life on one hand, but it's a guy, it's a man, it's dear friend of mine and huge mentor in my life. I'll just let you fill in the blanks from there. It's a big loss."

On Ravens head coach John Harbaugh saying that Johnson was unselfish and taught his assistants everything that he knew, and whether he feels the same way:"Yeah. You look at the family tree, so to speak, that he has put out there and there is a reason why we have been successful, and it doesn't all come back to us in what we've done. Now, you're proactive in your approach as an assistant, yet at the same time, Jim has imparted a tremendous amount of knowledge on his assistants and there is a reason why we've all been successful up to this point in our careers."

On whether Johnson treated his assistants like sons: "It was interesting. Last night, we got the news right before we had meetings and by the time I got out of meetings I had messages from all those brothers that we had, if you will, John Harbaugh, (Rams head coach) Steve Spagnuolo. It was interesting, everyone was checking on everyone else to make sure everyone was doing okay, and that's the way Jim would have wanted it."

On his first impression of Johnson: "Right away you get the feel that he is a tremendous person. Everyone wants to talk about what a defensive wizard he was and there is no doubt about that, but first and foremost he was a good person and an excellent father, husband, grandfather. It's important that we don't lose sight of that."

On whether his mourning process started earlier than a lot of other people: "I don't know if it necessarily started early because I knew Jim was going to battle right down to the very last moment and that's how it was. That's how it was throughout this career, and that's what he imparted on us and on his defense. But you start to begin the mental part of that process, so it doesn't make it easier but it allows you to form a plan in your mind, at least. Within the job that I'm asked to do right now, from a leadership standpoint, it allows me to go forward and carry through with that plan."

On how Johnson handled his illness late last season: "There are very few of us who knew the extent of Jim's illness at that time. That's the way Jim wanted it. I looked back to pictures that were in the media or just thoughts that I remember of Jim in the lobby of the NFC Championship game with friends and family, and you think back and you think to yourself just like anyone would, 'Did he know? And I wish he would have told me.' But I just recall in the locker room after the game, you feel the thought of Jim, and I remember sitting next to Jim both kind of having our head in our hands and wishing it would have gone differently, obviously. There is nothing that I would want more than for Jim to call one more game right now. So you think back to those moments."

On how much of who he is as a coach and as a person directly evolved from Johnson: "A tremendous amount. As I mentioned, there is no way I can quantify or say in one statement – I'll repeat that again, there's just no way when someone has a profound impact on your life that you can say in one word, one statement that embodies what he has done for me and what I have learned from the man, what I've appreciated about our relationship, our relationship with his family. You think back to people we've been around, the greats in our lives and the words that embody those types of people."

On whether Johnson was tough to work for: "I wouldn't say he was tough to work for at all. He demanded excellence and that's what you want in a leader but it all stemmed from being a man of great integrity. If you know he had your best interest in mind, that tough love, that's all a part of it and that's fine. That's what you want in a leader."

On how much of an influence Johnson had on Brian Dawkins' career: "Listen, Brian is a tremendously talented individual and we all know what he brings to the table on and off the field, but Jim, and I think it's being part of a good coach, is you put your players in a position to succeed. Jim did that whether it was Brian, or you can go right on down the line reeling off names, and Jim did that. He saw his personnel every year and fit this defense and molded the defense to fit his personnel, and as a coach, that's what you're called to do."

On a specific lesson that McDermott learned from Johnson on the field that sticks out: "Attack the quarterback. Blitz. Get after the quarterback."

On a lesson he learned from Johnson off the field: "Be a good person. Be genuine. Be a good person. This seat doesn't necessarily change how you treat other people and who you are. You go home at the end of the night, you kiss your wife, you hug your kids and you're a good person foremost."

On his first encounter with Johnson: "I had an office across the hall at Veteran's Stadium from Jim and I was operating at that time as (head coach Andy Reid's) Andy's assistant. And Jim would always come out and check with me on how I was doing. And I had very little influence on Jim or the defense at that point but, he took the time to say hello to me and he didn't need to do that and so, you remember things like that. Especially when you're trying to climb the ladder and that made a difference for me. It meant something to me."

On being Johnson's successor: "Well, it's an honor. It is an honor to follow Jim Johnson in any way, shape, or form. And I take this role, as I mentioned the other day, I take this seat seriously. Just out of respect for the people who have come before me. You look at Jim and all the others that have sat in this same seat, at the same time you want to do a great job. And I mentioned to Jim's family and (Johnson's wife) Vicky last night that we'll try and honor Jim and the Johnson family with the way we operate this year and how play on the field and how we approach our job."

On where Johnson ranks on the list of all-time defensive coordinators: "I got a text last night from a friend and it said, 'that it's apparent that the good lord above needed the best defensive coordinator up in heaven with him.' So, you can form your own opinions from there. In my opinion, he's the best defensive coordinator I've ever known. He shaped this game over the years and, this day for me as I was driving to practice is kind of ominous. Just knowing that Jim is looking down on all of us and he has the best video camera in the sky. I was talking to Steve Spagnuolo last night and we were talking about how he's got the best view right now to watch all of his sons out there, if you will, operate his defense."

On examples of Johnson maximizing the talents of his defensive personnel: "I'm still looking for that book of sorcery, so to speak, somewhere in his office. Because that book of potions and magic and that Harry Potter book is out there somewhere and I haven't found it yet but it's in there somewhere and I'm going to look in every corner until I find it. He would come into a meeting and we'd all be sitting there and you can dress the room up with whomever you want to put in the room at the time: (former Eagles LB coach) Ron Rivera, (former DBs coach) Leslie (Frazier) or as of late with myself and (LB coach) coach (Bill) Shuey and all the other coaches on the staff and he would bring a new idea to the table every week. That's what was amazing about it is that he just had that beautiful mind and whether it was halftime of a game or preparing for a game, he would come up with a new idea to maximize his personnel. He had a new idea every week and if it was putting (former Eagles DE) Hugh Douglas in a position to make a play or take advantage of an offensive lineman or, (former Eagles CB) Troy Vincent or (former Eagles CB) Bobby Taylor, just a list of ideas that was never-ending. And he always had an answer and that's Jim. You look to him at halftime of a game and he always had an answer for you."

On whether McDermott will think about what Johnson would have done at different moments during the season:"There's no doubt about it. Anytime you spend ten or eleven years around someone and his office at the complex is right next to mine. So the influence is not just direct but it's indirect in some ways. There's no doubt about it. If I'm 50-50 on something going forward in the future that will be the little voice in my ear telling me and it may sway me in one way or the other."

On whether having Johnson's voice in his ear at times will make things easier or more difficult: "It will make it easier for me. If I'm stuck on making a decision in terms of what's the best interest of this team and this defense, Jim will help sway me in one way or the other. If I look back to say how would Jim have done it to help me break that tie, so to speak, it will make it easier for me."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.
Advertising